Old age allowance

Elderly suffer from allowance delays

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 November, 2012, 3:13am

After the summer's silly season, when young people were led, by a handful of would-be comedians in the Legislative Council, to believe that they were in charge of running the government, we are beginning to hear the voices of reason and moderation.

The government proposes to increase the old-age allowance for Hong Kong's elderly people from HK$1,090 a month to HK$2,200, for those over the age of 65 who qualify after a means test. Never willing to accept any bill, no matter how sensible, the usual comedians, as well as some others calling themselves democrats, began to offer conditions impossible to implement immediately.

They eventually blocked the bill. Those who voted against it know that the only ones to suffer from delays in passing the legislation are those who are eligible for the new amount, HK$2,200.

Actually, the bill could have been improved. For example, the threshold for eligibility could have been raised, but working out the details immediately would be too complicated, and the old people cannot stop eating until those changes are worked out.

Now more moderate voices are being heard. Among them is the voice of Lu Ping, formerly the director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

I well remember going to Beijing with a group of non-political party members of the Legislative Council, to see Lu Ping, to ask if the Basic Law would be changed in the few years before 1997.

The "democrats" had co-operated with the new Conservative governor, Chris Patten, to change the Basic Law.

Our non-political group thought it wiser to talk to Mr Lu to hear what would be the result if Legco changed any part of it. Mr Lu was patient but firm, saying, "Between now and 1997 you can change what you like in the Basic Law, but in 1997 the Basic Law will revert to its original form."

Recent voices in the press have drowned the voices of moderate Hong Kong people, but now, thankfully, they have begun to make their voices heard.

Among them are writers in the Insight section of your paper. Alice Wu accuses the objectors to the HK$2,200 of "political posturing" ("It's a bit rich", October 29) and Victoria Sung asks us to see the larger picture and stop "cherry-picking" ("Partial story", November 1).

Many correspondents in these columns have also called for moderation.

It remains to be seen whether the new Legco will seek democratic moderation or dirty tricks.

Elsie Tu, Kwun Tong